“I derive energy out of my incredibly passionate team working to create a better tomorrow,” says Parmesh Shahani, author and head of Godrej India Culture Lab. Excerpts from an interview:
Thrive Global India: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Parmesh Shahani: I feel grateful. I am very blessed; my bedroom window overlooks the mangroves, and when I open my eyes I see the top of mangrove trees, and there usually are parrots sitting on my window. The first thing I do when I wake up is I say a prayer of gratitude.
TGI: What gives you energy?
PS: My team at work. I have a small but incredibly passionate team. All of whom care about changing the world and making it better. I get energy from their passion, and conviction that we can create a better tomorrow. It’s contagious.
TGI: How do you unplug and recharge?
PS: With my partner. We like travelling and we try a new place every month. It could even be for a day or two.
I think travelling is important because it’s not just the journey outwards, but an opportunity to go inwards away from your daily life. Travelling with my life partner is a beautiful way of recharging.
TGI: Do you switch off from email/phone while travelling?
PS: No, in today’s world I don’t think it’s possible. Although, I try to check it less frequently, maybe, morning and evening.
At home, we follow some small practices like no phones on the dining table. I put it off every night before sleeping.
It’s hard these days because we are all so connected, but it’s important to focus on the moment and be with each other when you are with friends and family.
TGI: When was the last time you felt burned out?
PS: My work requires a lot of travel which makes it exhausting. But I am so blessed to be enjoying work, that I can’t remember the last time I felt burned out.
I am trying to manage exhaustion better with a balanced diet and making time to chill a little more.
TGI: How do you cope with exhaustion?
PS: I take a piece of dark chocolate every night—it’s not helping with my weight but completely helping with my happiness!
When I am stressed, I also remind myself, of how much love I have in this world and so much more love to give. I believe that no matter how stressed you might be, you can choose your response to it.
Constantly reminding myself and bringing myself back to the present helps me deal with stress. But I think more than anything else, it’s the two pieces of chocolate every night!
TGI: How do you incorporate well-being into your daily life?
PS: I try to do 40 minutes of exercise every day. And doing things which give me joy, like visiting art galleries and collecting art.
Frequently reminding myself of the small things that make me happy and following up on doing them really helps.
TGI: What benefit do these habits have on your ability to perform?
PS: It puts me in a more positive frame of mind.
TGI: You unexpectedly find 15 minutes in your day, what do you do with it?
PS: I’ll call my mom and have a chat. She loves that!
TGI: A book that changed your life…
PS: There are so many. In non-fiction Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt really changed my life and made me believe that happiness is a function of many.
In fiction, a book that I love and keep going back to again and again is A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth, it reminds me of the craziness, scope and magic of our incredible India.
TGI: Have you started any initiatives at your workplace to promote employee well-being.
PS: Our focus on LGBT inclusion is important to me, for example, we sponsor LGBT events, like the Kashish film festival. Being gay myself, I feel so proud that I can bring my whole self to work.
TGI: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
PS: “Find purpose. The means will follow.”—Mahatma Gandhi